Letter from the Chancellor: August 20, 2020

Dear U of A community:

With the fall semester beginning next week, I wanted to give you a few updates on our preparations. But first, a final plea: most of us have now heard about the suspension of in-person classes at a few universities across the country. The reasons are fairly clear: failure to observe established safety protocols, particularly at large, off-campus gatherings.

The Arkansas Department of Health has provided clear guidance: wear a face covering, maintain 6 feet of physical distance, wash your hands and avoid crowds. We’ve spent the last several months doing our utmost to COVID-proof our campus, but even with exhaustive measures in place to reduce the likelihood of it spreading, your individual diligence, discipline and commitment to following accepted guidelines is paramount. It comes down to this: if we want to have an in-person semester, and the things that come with that, we must fight for it. Each and every one of us has to do our part to protect ourselves and to protect each other. We must be relentless in following the safety precautions. If not, I fear we will quickly join the ranks of the University of North Carolina and others.

That said, we’ve continued to make progress on our health and safety preparations.

Additional Spaces Available for Students Between Classes

The registrar’s office has identified available classrooms for studying in between classes or attending remote classes. The registrar’s site includes times and days the rooms are open, as well as the maximum capacity of each room. Please find one that works for you.

Student Health Kits Distribution

We are also in the process of delivering student health kits. Students living in residence halls and Greek housing managed by University Housing are now receiving their kits through housing or their Greek organizations. Students who live off campus will be able to get their health kits from August 24 through August 26 between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at one of two locations:

  • Student Activities Welcome Days event on the Arkansas Union Mall
  • The plaza outside Willard J. Walker Hall

Students will need to present their University ID to pick up a health kit. Please let your friends know!

Self-Reporting and Notification Processes for Positive Cases

I also wanted to let you know that you must self-report if you are tested for COVID-19 at an off-campus site, receive a positive test for COVID-19 and have been on campus any time this semester (or are about to come to campus for the start of the semester). Self-report your case to U of A Emergency Management using this online self-reporting form.

If you were tested on-campus, you do not need to self-report because your case information has already been provided directly to Emergency Management by the university.

Whether you tested positive on campus or off, though, a number of things can happen, depending on where you live, if you’re an employee or a student, and other factors. To help alleviate some of the uncertainly, we created a flow chart to walk you through the process. This should clarify the steps needed to get you through the process as safely as possible.

Finally, in the interest of transparency, we plan to add a reporting dashboard to keep you up to date on the latest number of cases. We will let you know when this site goes live in the coming days.

With that, a new year begins, one like no other. Please stay safe, stay connected and stay Razorback Strong. And seriously, avoid the parties.


Joe Steinmetz, Ph.D.